Friday, July 22, 2011

Nyirmada - Fehérgyarmat - Auschwitz - Brooklyn (Part I)

Women inmates in Auschwitz sort through a huge pile of shoes from a transport of Hungarian Jews. May 1944. USHMM, COURTESY OF YAD VASHEM

Today is my Maternal Bubbe's 20th Yohrtzeit. I remember being in a Yeshiva camp and getting a call from my parents that "Bah-bee" had passed away. The news was a great shock to me, despite the fact that she had been suffering from Alzheimer's for several years already and had been deteriorating physically as well. Her life was one of great sorrow and later much joy. Despite being 40 years old at the time of deportation in June 1944, she managed to be sent to work instead of to the gas chambers and survived to even see one grandchild marry a fine ben-Torah. She lost her husband and one child, but remarried, and built a new life here in New York, first in East New York, Brooklyn, and then in Boro Park. At the time of her passing it had been 8 years since my other zeide passed away and we were not "used" to losing loved ones, so it was a very painful experience at the time.

I look back today and try and understand her life, but I find it difficult.

When I look back today, I realize that there was so much more that I could've heard and learned from her, if only I had the brains to do it. But alas! I was young, and I didn't realize that at the time. If I may, allow me to blame the surroundings in which I was raised, i.e. the mindset that I had in my cheder and early teen years. My Bubbe was a classic Hungarian frau who spoke little Yiddish and even less English, so I had a language barrier to contend with. We communicated with lots of love and kisses and food and other goodies. She loved us dearly, because we were almost all that she had in this world, but that still doesn't equal knowledge and history. That's good for a child, but not for when you're trying to remember where she came from and what she was all about... I wish there was some way I could turn back the clock on this one. Ultimately what happened was that she was so affected by the events of WW2 that she lived in a very quite and withdrawn world all her life, despite the fact that she had a child and eyniklach. That's how I see it now.

Yes, age is a big factor here, but not all of it is age. ( To be continued... )

Kedves nagymamám, nagyon hiányoznak szépen, és soha nem fogjuk elfelejteni!
(courtesy of Google Translate...)


Nyirmada, Hungary, current photo


Anonymous said...

Tzig Bachi
Can u give us a map where it is situated in Hungary

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

anonymous Bachi

it's about 30km from Nyírbátor! (20km from Mátészalka.)

both are in the "Nyir" area... :-)

Anonymous said...


Thank you for the beautiful remembrance. It evokes, to some extent, the lives and personalities of my own Hungarian grandmothers. What a great sadness that our children will never get to know this great Dor.

I also commiserate on your point concerning communication, or lack thereof, with our grandparents. I wish I would have had the opportunity (or the inclination) to ask my grandparents more about their lives and their families. Trying to decipher that information now when they are in the Olom Haemes is exponentially more difficult.
Kol Tuv

BelzFinAMool said...

In such cases, where's there's a communication gap between grandparents (Dor I) and grandchildren (Dor III), and in most cases the grandparents (Dor I) are already in Almo De'Kshoit, one must try to get as much as possible from one's own parents (Dor II), who are the Mitteler Dor, and can be more knowledgable about their own parents (Dor I) stories.
Having said that, I know it will be a major effort , for me personally, to get Dor II to divulge.
A Shood

moished said...

In most cases- with few exceptions-the pain was too great for them- Dor I to recall the "old days", so there were no stories handed down from grandparent to grandchild. In our case- Dor II- we had no grandparents, and parents would not or could not discuss those days.